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Raising Black Children in Today’s World {Encouragement from Created for Care}

Our hearts are grieving at the loses of both black lives and policeman this week–and for many of us we are at a loss of words. As a white mom raising a black son–my first response is fear. Then–I look UP. Jesus—and His perfect love…and perfect love drives out fear. Until having a black son, I didn’t realize the reality of how even if things change–I will have to raise my black son differently than my white sons. One I’ll have to coach how to keep his hands raised and not reach for his wallet when he is pulled over for speeding or a tail-light—and the other…honestly I’ll just have to tell him to just use his manners. In just 5 years of being a mom of a black son, I’ve already experienced racism that I never knew still existed.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord called me to be a mom to my boy–my black son as well as my other children both brought to us through adoption and biologically. But I can’t do it alone. I need a village–and not just a white village. Long before adoption ever entered our lives–God surrounded me with the best friends as neighbors–neighbors who just happened to be black. They became the godparents to my white children first–and then later–they would help me raise my black son.

Seven years ago, Created for Care was launched to support foster care and adoptive moms in raising their children–and each year we have sessions on raising our children of different races. We record the sessions so moms who can’t attend can purchase the sessions and also attendees can purchase them to take home to their village of mommas to support and encourage them. Our non-profit also uses these recording sales to raise funds to support our ministry so we can continue to do what we do.

We would like to gift this video segment to moms everywhere–both raising black children–and also raising white children. If you aren’t raising black children, I encourage you to watch this session so you can be the village and support those who are. So you can learn a little bit of what these parents and children will face that you may have never thought about. May we stand together–love our children together–and not give up…for us–for them. We need each other now more than ever.

Thank Nisia Murray for joining us every year to shed light on raising black children in today’s world…

If you have trouble viewing the video–you may view it directly at: https://vimeo.com/163810287

 

 

To learn more about Created for Care and our retreats for foster care and adoptive moms, please visit www.createdforcare.org

Our next retreats are February 3-5, 2017 and March 3-5, 2017. Registration begins August 15, 2016 at 12:01 am EST. Be sure to register early as our retreats fill up quickly.

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Celebrating Independence on the Fourth {Let Freedom Ring}

I heard someone say there’s never been a more uncertain time in our country or a time when we were more divided. I say that’s untrue. Remembering the past always gives me hope for the future.

Having taught U.S. history this past year, our country is paved with uncertain times yet the spirit of freedom and justice some how always lined the streets bringing hope in the end.

I’m really not worried about what is to come because there really have been awful presidents before who shockingly left even my children’s jaws dropped as they learned of their policies and actions. Yet without fail America’s people always came together to fight and stand for what was good and right. Consider the man many will talk about today–who gets credit for being the principle author of the Declaration of Independence for example. (Oh Jefferson–you may have been an American Founding Father—but anyone who spends an afternoon reading Jefferson’s Sons and digging deep into other things this president stood for–and I must say you will be left equally if not far more disappointed with dear Thomas than the histories of the candidates you have to choose from.

I really believe that the Lord is over even the bad presidents and their decisions. I really do; And seeing God’s faithfulness in the past gives me so much hope for our country’s future.

This practice of digging deep into the reality of the past–remembering not only the good but also the stories and times that seemed hopeless–remembering how each and every circumstance was overcome–gives me so much hope each and every morning in my own personal walk as well.

As we celebrate our country–it reminds me of celebrating our children’s birthdays. I can’t help but start each birthday reflecting on that child’s past. I remember how God was faithful to each of them. I have become a mommy through carrying children in my own tummy as well as through adoption–so with our 6 children…I have much to reflect on…

I’ve left a baby in the NICU and felt the separation a mom feels leaving her baby who was meant to come home with her. And I watched that boy receive an award as the top offensive player for his soccer team.

I’ve signed papers to bring a boy home that they said might not make it home…later making the best friends in physical therapy sessions hoping he would walk–to see him fly in the air as a goalie and beat his big brothers in relay races leaving us all wiping away tears remembering how far he has come.

Motherhood hasn’t always come easy to me either. I’ve also wiped away tears in the passenger’s seat on the way home from the doctor’s office when the heartbeat stopped on an ultrasound. Years later…here I sit just trying to type reflections on today are only possible after asking my husband if he could just hold the baby for a few minutes while I jot some thoughts down on my blog about God’s faithfulness…remembering the God of my past–which inevitably leaves my heart in a personal revival celebrating who He is and trusting Him bigger for my future.

This practice has radically changed how I live fueling me every day to live bolding and bravely as I trust Him for whatever the day brings.

If you want to be filled with hope for the Lord in your personal life and for what is ahead–remember the God of the past and all the hard you may have faced–but don’t just sit in the hard. See and remember how the Lord walked you through it, what He taught you in it and how He delivered you from it.

What a beautiful way to spend today as we celebrate our country’s birthday remembering those who fought for our freedom making this day a day we celebrate with the booming sounds not of guns…but of fireworks. Yes–there are stories of guns that break our hearts but they don’t break us a people standing together. We still have so far to go–but if you take a quick glance of history–we have always had far to go.

And it’s my prayer that we stand together for what is good, right and just–as we have in the past and trust the God of our future and stand in His faithfulness without worry or fear of what is to come.

This transforming practice was also practiced in Biblical times…

The Israelites remembered the past and His faithfulness through stones. On the very field where the Israelites had once experienced defeat–they asked God to help them and they were led to a miraculous victory. Their leader Samuel built a memorial of stones and named it Ebenezer “stone of help” so they would always remember what happened there and how God helped them. Every time they pasted these stones, they would remember what happened there and how the Lord fought for them.

Our flag serves as our country’s Ebenezer. It reminds us of battles fought, states won, lives lost. Every stripe–every star…placed not just by a few stitches but with brothers, sons, husbands and fathers.

And something really powerful happens in our own hearts when we remember the God of our own past as we start each day knowing the God of our future is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

For me–my Ebenezer is…as trivial and crazy as it might sound–well…it’s TimeHop.

I start many mornings looking at pictures that pop up.  I don’t just look at them but I try to remember what those “stars and stripes” really mean and where I was in those days that pop up in those pictures.

Today it was the video of a Ukrainian girl singing–who we hosted through a orphanage hosting program. She was singing a Christian song on the video with the words to Jesus “YOU are where I belong”. Wow. At the time–four years ago today…thank you TimeHop–she was completely displaced in our country where she didn’t know the language yet something within her was singing. Trusting. Believing that with just Jesus she had enough–wherever He leads her was where she found belonging. Fast forward to today. That precious girl is in a family, adopted by friends we love, deeply loved herself, a high school graduate, about to start college, working a job this summer, in love with Jesus still believing and trusting with a history that some of us will never experience…my gracious–reflecting on that leaves me in a revival of my own!

Today I’ll start Independence Day remembering what it stood for and being thankful for what the stars and stripes really stand for.

And in my own life–I embrace this single practice and continue to start my day with my Ebenezer…remembering God’s faithfulness.  This practice has personally transformed my own walk, how I live and how I will choose to say “yes” to however He leads because I’ve seen His faithfulness in the past and want to trust Him more with my future. This practice is truly where my freedom is found. And today I start my day dancing remembering all He has done! Let freedom ring on my heart chants ready to start another day!

Freedom…oh freedom.

Freedom is found not by mere words saying you are free…or having it written or signed on paper. History teaches us that some times even the ones who write or say the words don’t really believe or live them. But it’s living in freedom that changes every thing.

Freedom is found when the heart no longer lives in fear of future. It is with bravery and releasing fear soldiers won our freedom–and it’s with bravery and releasing fear we find freedom in Christ.

Let freedom ring wherever you are today–and may you really live as you look at your Ebenezers–whatever they might be–remember the God of your past and His faithfulness–and with THAT new found freedom–trust Him big for whatever is ahead.

Happy Independence Day!

Andrea

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Baby Girl’s Nursery

This weekend means…we made it to 39 weeks waiting for baby #6! It’s been almost 8 years since we have had a newborn in our home–so I think my almost 40 year old brain has forgotten most everything about these last days of pregnancy. Our “paper pregnancies” to bring home our last 2 loves through adoption were laborious in different ways. I told Richard that they were easier and harder in different ways–I knew travel dates when we were this close to seeing our last 2 loves–but oh my gracious knowing we had a toddler and a preschooler just waiting across the world was crazy hard on this momma’s heart! With this pregnancy I have been 3 cm dilated now for 3 weeks and a week of prodromal labor like nothing I’ve experienced before with contractions and no sleep the last 4 nights. I keep reassuring myself that it’s baby girl getting ready–but momma is tired!

The nursery has been ready for weeks now as my last delivery was 37 weeks, and I knew that if it wasn’t put together when she arrived she’d be a toddler before I finished it;). This being our 6th, we knew she’d probably need her own nursery so the others could get sleep at night. Their rooms are all upstairs–and our master is on the main and I wanted baby girl close by. Instead of rearranging everyone upstairs–we had our amazing handyman turn our unused extra living room beside the master into separate room by closing in walls and adding double doors right beside our bedroom. This old farmhouse had 2 living rooms and a family room–so turning the living room beside our room made sense–and one day it can be Richard’s office;)

Here is baby girl’s nursery…now we just wait on a baby!

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The space where the 1950s sideboard (turned into a dresser) is was a wide opening to foyer before we closed it in a couple of months ago. I found the sideboard at an antique store, and it was already painted light blue. The white antique mirror above the sideboard I found 12 years ago at an antique shop. It was brown and I painted it white for my 12 year old’s room when he was a baby. It’s seen all 5 nurseries and now makes it’s way to the 6th. The rocker was bought for only other princess’s nursery and it 10 years old–but it’ll do and has held up well:)

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I found the Allen & Roth light fixture at Lowe’s. The room is smaller so using a chandelier would have made the room feel smaller.

I wanted lots of vintage pink, gold and white–and when I spotted gold angel wings in a Restoration Baby & Child catalog I had to have! Only not for hundreds of $$;). I found some on Etsy for $200 but that was still more than I wanted to pay. So I settled for white ones on Amazon for $35 and just spray painted them gold myself;).

The vintage pink draperies–ya’ll were the easiest! It’s just fabric clipped to white curtain rod ring clips. No sewing AT ALL! These pictures don’t do the vintage fabric color justice…you can buy it online here–OR you can wait for Hobby Lobby to carry it again in February. They carry it in vintage pink, light blue, greens and a few other shades for their early Spring fabrics but once it’s gone it’s gone until the next year. (About 3 yards made 1 panel–and the Hobby Lobby 40% coupon on a single cut helped!)

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I found the sheep rocker on Craigslist…a $10 score:). I also bought the Jenny Lind crib for a steal on Craiglist–and I spray painted the ends gold with Rusto-leum metallic gold spray paint.

The sweet monogram I bought from MonogramsyLetters on Etsy. I used the same gold spray paint for the monogram.

My daughter and I made the flower banner out of felt! I found some on Etsy for $90 but they weren’t even as full as this. So we put our heads together and made a craft day out of it and made this one for closer to $15 including all felt and the floral ribbon we hot-glued them to.

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Big sister wanted to be a part of most everything…I guess with 4 brothers she’s dreamed of a sister forever:). We made baby girl a little bookshelf out of wooden crates we bought at Walmart. We spray painted each one white with a flat white spray paint and then used screws to attach them together. We used acrylic paint we already had to paint the inside of each one in different shades.

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We made little pendants with scrapbook paper we had laying around just using yarn, scrapbook paper and hot glue. The mason jar tree has leaves of blessings on them from a baby shower my sweet friends gave baby girl. I have the sweetest friends who insist EVERY baby needs to be celebrated…and they sprinkled her with such love a couple of weeks ago.

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From where I rock:)…our master door is immediately to the led with a living room in the middle of the house. The vintage pink rug I spotted at HomeGoods and because we didn’t add a closet to this room–I found an old antique wardrobe at an antique shop. I painted it white with Farmhouse paint (my favorite chalk paint brand), sanded the edges and then spray painted the bottom for a gold-dipped look.

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We already had the laundry basket…and I was on a gold frenzy–so I spray painted that gold also;). I found a 72″ bamboo ladder on Amazon and spray painted it a flat white–then I went back using painters tape and gave it a little gold dip too:)

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Perfect for hanging keepsakes and blankets on:)

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The signs are my favorite…my prayer for her is that she is a Proverbs 31 woman…clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future. I saw one of these on Etsy for $$$$ and while it was tempting–I squealed when I found it for $ on Smallwoods Home.

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And my most precious babysitter and her soul-sister momma friend of mine gave our sweet baby this Hobby Lobby find…SO LOVED…yes she is already:) I found the gold antlers for hanging pretties at HomeGoods…

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So there ya have it! Our baby #6’s nursery. We can’t wait to meet her. And I better go grab another cat nap if she’s going to give me another few nights of prodromal labor before she finally makes her grand appearance!

Oh…I almost forgot the bedding! I made the bumpers for our daughter who is 10…and so thankful I held on to it! The bedskirt we all made together with left over panel fabric and white muslin cloth. I love a crib skirt with lots of layers! We didn’t even surge or hem the edges of the white fabric and literally ripped the muslin fabric in thick strips and attached to bumpers to make bows!

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Now we just wait for YOU baby girl!

In His perfect timing!!!

Xoxo!

Andrea

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When the Sacred and Soccer Collide {life lessons on the field}

I’m a soccer mom.

But I’m more than that. I have 5 precious children–and one on the way. Some brought to us through the miracle of adoption. Some brought to us the old-fashioned way. Both beautiful miracles. As most moms, I play many roles–wife being priority and daughter of the Utmost High King being the most treasured of all.

Rarely do I leave the soccer field inspired…or with the need to process–but today…I did. My many worlds of transitioning collided all at once–where I felt like I was in the midst of culture shock…and the sacredness of who He is, what He came for and it being Easter weekend–collided with…well—soccer.

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My kids’ team lost today–and honestly…I have never been prouder. But let me back up.

It’s been a long week–a good week, but a long week. My husband has been in Africa since last Friday serving with Wiphan Care Ministries in Ndola, Zambia. He has a “normal” job, but we also serve on the board of Wiphan a ministry we have been so honored to be a part of since the it’s first days 9 years ago in 2007. We serve alongside dear friends here–and champion many teachers, staff and 950 vulnerable and orphaned children in Zambia to dream big.

Leading up to today’s soccer game–which wasn’t on my radar as a monumental event;)…I have been doing what momma’s of littles do with daddy out of town–surviving. I’m also in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy so trying to take it easy with daddy in Zambia has been a funny challenge. These younger two have kept me on my toes…and all I have to say about this picture I took yesterday of them together is…poor cat.

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On a side note: Every time I see pictures of my baby boys–my breath is taken away (no matter how tired I am;)–in thanksgiving of how the Lord has written our family’s story. Through sickness and health–life and loss–12 years of parenting…so much has happened to find us where we are now expecting a little miracle again. Each of our children–such miracles!

But I must confess–THIS week..momma being 32 weeks along and with daddy in Africa–oh my…I’m thankful he just arrived home today and has taken the children out to dinner…leaving me time to do what I love to do…write:).

Each night this week after getting the house cleaned, laundry put up, the next day’s homeschool lessons prepped, preschool bags read…and this week’s extras for preschool parties–Easter eggs stuffed.

At the end of each day, my sweet reward…I was able to either talk or text with Richard in Africa. Talking or texting him with our 9 years of pouring in there–takes me back…almost to the point of when I go out the next day I experience culture shock as if I just stepped off a plane myself;).

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In the last 9 years so, so much has happened. Our eyes have been opened. Our hearts have been captured. Things that used to matter don’t matter as much and our perspectives for what does matter–well…is just different…in SUCH a good way. But some times it’s hard–crippling…and today—on the soccer field it was just that.

I think about the little boy in Ndola who had cancer at our school. He was able to get treatment and is doing well. I was so thankful for our school and having Nurse Becky catch his health decline…and his life restored.

I think about Margaret who had elephantiasis–surgery after surgery and the sponsored daughter to my sister. Just a few years older than my daughter–and just a few months ago lost her fight and went to be with Jesus. Oh but she left knowing she was loved, and there’s no doubt in my mind she’s dancing with Jesus with both legs well now.

I think about Pastor Aaron and our woodworker Justin…who disciple the children and are godly men mentors…daddy figures to the hundreds of children in the program who do not have fathers.

I think about the day I met little M. Younger than my daughter. Before she came to Wiphan she was raped over and over on the streets as day time is a dangerous time for children to not be enrolled in a school. She was able to get in Wiphan and into a care home where she would be safe.

Nine years…full of so many stories like these. THIS. This is what we know and what we are now responsible for now that we do know. These stories are what keeps us up at night and thinking what kind of fundraiser can we do next…or what sustainable trade could the 150 ladies in our program do to help…or how can we get the other 600 kids sponsored?

Each night I would talk with Richard about things he had seen, heard and game plans–plans for how to make things better and help the children and teachers thrive.

These thoughts stirring in my head…and I carried these pictures in my mind on the soccer field—waddling out there in the 3rd trimester with my blue fold-out chair and water bottle to cheer on my son during his game.

I sat down to watch this close game–and tried my best to focus. Game on.

Two parents from the opposing stood behind me–yelling at the kids…and I my instinct was to yell a bit for our kids to compete with their noise. But I took it in instead. We happen to be on a team where the coaches have asked the parents not to yell as it distracts the boys from the game–they can’t hear the coach for all the noise. (Another great life analogy there;).

In between screaming…adult banter behind me…

Spring break is next week.

We are going to the Berry Islands…off the Bahamas.

Well–we are going to Grand Caymen.

You have to catch a boat to get where we are going.

Yeah same here. We’ve thought about going there–BUT…

I was listening to this vacation one-up conversation in the midst of filing away pictures from Ndola…processing Zambia, the kids, 9 years…and oh man…it felt as if something was clashing in my heart…

More screaming. JEFFREYYYYYYYY. Show him who’s boss!

More noise. JEFFREY! Keeper! Come on!

A lot more screaming. Jeffrey own it! You got this! Jeffrey what are you thinking?!

For goodness sake Jeffrey–I’m going to have dreams tonight with your name in it thanks to the echoing noise.

It was intense. Like over the top. Like crazy intense. Like so much so the parents from our team I was sitting here all moved. But I stayed.

I was taking it all in.

Something about it all seemed to really clash with my processing Zambia.

There was something He has for me in this culture shock of different worlds colliding–so I sat and took in Jeffrey’s name over and over, the Berry Islands and past trips and a lump came to my throat remembering some we have loved and lost through the last 9 years–and why I’m tired this week with Richard gone and absorbed with much…like big crazy life-changing decisions–and how thankful I am we are a part of this…but how does this all play together right now?

Then there was some serious rough play from another kid on the other team. Like more unbelievable that the noise.

Pushing and shoving–and dirty playing. And I was so proud of our boys. They took tumbles. Whistles never blew when they should have. They just got back up–again and again. They weren’t going there–and I was so proud of them.

In the last few minutes we were down by 2 points–one of the dad’s on the other team came up and stood right behind me…no doubt intentional after I couldn’t help myself and cheered for the boys to shake off the rough play. Oh man–so tired…feeling so big in my 3rd trimester–it’s hard to breath just sitting there–so ready to have this baby—and thankful my husband just landed in the airport which meant I’d be coming home to HELP! And behind me he says…

“Come on boys! Y’all should let them score just one point to make it exciting because we know you are going to win anyway!”

Dirty plays off and on the field. What the what I thought? I could see in that moment why some of the kids played dirty–because they just didn’t know any better because of the noise that was coming there way. They learn from us–we shepherd and teach them…one way or the other.

Our boys did score as he wanted them to. But just once. Yes, it was more exciting. And they lost by 1 point.

And I’ve never been prouder.

They lost with integrity.

After the game–a few of the parents from our team came up to see how Richard was–and in talking they came up with an idea…what would it look like for our boys to take a soccer camp to Zambia? We laughed…dreamed…brainstormed a bit…

That conversation. Wow.

I think we just really won…

My son came up to me and looked me in the eye and said, “I’m so sorry mom.”

Son. What? Never–ever apologize for losing. You boys rocked it. You played hard. No matter what happened between the noise or shoves–you boys stood tall and played with integrity!

“No mom. I am sorry about that moment in the 2nd half of the game when I was kicking the ball down the line and I got too close to you on the sidelines. I was so worried someone might get too close to you–or the ball might accidentally go out of bounds as it almost did. I just didn’t want anything to happen to you and it almost did.”

And THAT conversation.

I think we just really won…I thought again.

The Lord was teaching me in this game–that what we instill in our boys…in all of our children on and off the field MATTERS.

How we live our lives–will be seen our children on and off the field too.

There will be noise. There will be the fight to compare and to keep up with one another–and we can’t compare…or even judge–yes…that goes for me too. The vacation talk Lord…what did you have for me in that? While I think vacations are awesome and it’s been a few years since we’ve had one as a family–I’m so thankful for the reasons we haven’t been able to. Our kids aren’t missing out as we say no to some things because we can’t do it all and yes to others–because as long as we are radically following Jesus to whatever He asks of us–they will be coming alongside us and changed with us. They will shine Jesus off the field–and even in a silly old (yet awesome to my son) game like soccer.

The world will be LOUD. Always. Like really loud. We can’t run from it. We can’t always pick up our easy chair and go some where else. Some times we just have to sit in it. And as much as we want to say something–some times we just have to be still. In the middle of our game–injustice will happen. We will be pushed, shoved and knocked down–and Jesus won’t always blow the whistle…

This Easter weekend I think about Jesus on the cross. Everyone standing around wanted that foul/time-out whistle to blow. It looked like He lost. But 3 days later—He won. But for awhile…it look very much like He lost. It was perspective.

I walked away from today’s game encouraged. In a really strange way the sacred and soccer collided for the first time in this soccer mom’s world. In 1 short hour it felt like so many things happened that represented so much that we face in this world. And that boy of mine–who barely talks or shares his heart…shined Jesus and what to do in the middle of this world.

You keep on rising. Isaiah 60:1…you ARISE, and you shine…for HIS light has come.

No matter what the other team plays like–you play for Him–with integrity.

Despite the noise–you listen to the One that leads your team…the Good Shepherd whose voice can be heard despite the world. You play on.

As you play–you look out for the vulnerable and protect them as He would. And you play with your whole heart for what matters—knowing the score is just a score the world keeps…winning is all a matter of perspective.

The world plays for numbers—but you play to bring Him glory. Always. No matter what.

Running this race with you…

From one soccer mom to another;)…

Andrea

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Thankful We Chose More Than Perfect

A front porch on a farm will do many things to you—one is lead to more conversations and recollecting memories. The beau and I sat rocking—talking about where we started. Almost 15 years ago…with small dreams that we thought were big.

He was raised in Atlanta. Near Chastain Park. Some how this Alabama country girl and this city boy found each other. Hearing his stories of growing up near Buckhead–Saturdays spent at the golf club…and Sundays at a church just up the street–made me want to recreate those same memories for our children.

And I tried.

We were living in an apartment near the city when we found out we’d be parents. Thirteen years ago and so much has changed. We thought we needed this and that to bring home a baby–and before we knew it we were moving in our first home. Parker came in August–and just 14 months later our daughter Laney came. Growing up with a sister just 14 months older than me–I thought this was even more perfect. A boy. A girl. Life near the city…a church up the street–and we just needed to add the white picket fence to complete it.

It makes me laugh now. Wishing I could get inside that mind of mine in my first days of motherhood. Pouring over books trying to figure out how to do it all right. Scheduling naps like my life–and their futures–depended on it. Sitting at the poolside at the club making more friends with nannies than young moms. Playdates and music class–and standing in line for registration at the best preschool–and we’d move at the perfect time for the perfect school just a year before kindergarden. I thought…I really though–that was the stuff that mattered. Oh we had plans alright. Perfect ones.

For us–Africa…changed everything. Parker was 2 years old and Laney was just 1 when we took our first trip. I stood before those precious children and my life–flashes of my perfect world…intermingled with the reality of theirs. Now that we knew we couldn’t unforget–and now that we knew…we were responsible. I came home that summer in 2007 a different person…and I different mom. Sure I had traveled overseas before and even lived in a 3rd world country in my 20’s doing mission work. But going as a mom…a young mom…trying so hard to have everything in my own world “just right”–going this time…changed everything.

I was divinely ruined.

I thanked Him for nap time…when and however it happened. My children had a safe place to lay their heads. I cracked my organize homemade food from their ice cubes–overwhelmed how blessed we really were…thankful we even had snacks in between meals. I stood in preschool pick up line with blurred thoughts…that quickly helped me see that for too long…even as a believer–I had been living for myself rather than seeking, asking and following what Jesus REALLY wanted for my days as a mom and as His daughter who would do anything for Him.

Almost 15 years later–we rock on this front porch and watch them play and think about…how we got HERE.

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I think if you would have asked me what my “real dreams” were back in those first years of mothering–I might have actually said THIS.

But. But I think I was scared. I think I was scared that I’d have to give up too much to have it. I believe the Lord has given us all desires that actually line up with His will for our lives–but some times we get so confused by the world around us and so afraid that if we take risks and choose to follow Him and what’s in our hearts…that we stand to lose more than what we could gain by living by the world’s standards or playing it safe.

As we began to take leaps of faith and make Wiphan Zambia a big part of our lives–we saw more and more things differently. Not only were our hearts changed…but so was our thinking. I’d call it the transforming of our minds. I think about the changes we made then…bit by bit—they felt SO big then. Instead of private school…we’d do this. We’d let those club costs go…and we’d do that. It didn’t all happen at once…but like the Velveteen Rabbit–bit by bit…our pretty fur fell off and we learned what it meant for US to really live.

As we rocked on this front porch watching them play…we shook our heads remembering how we talked of being done after 2 children. I have Africa to thank for growing our hearts to be open to whatever the LORD chooses for our family…far better than what we could plan for ourselves…

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How will we send them all to college they ask? Wow–you have your hands full they say. But fuller our heart hearts. No–maybe not in the same preschool or schools we once started in…but they are growing up learning about what it means to really love and live for His dreams for us rather than ours…and the crazy thing is–watching their small dreams become big ones as they serve along side us…and even prepare to see their daddy off this Friday morning–not sad that he’s going but rather cheering him on and asking when it will be their turn to go with him…

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These kids..have shaped these kids…

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In ways I never knew possible. For us–they really changed everything. They don’t life without one another across the world–and to me…it’s so much better than the days I once dreamed for them to have. We started out with these perfect plans to find His instead…and what truth there is that His plans for us are GOOD, PLEASING and PERFECT.

Be encouraged that no matter how impossible following Him to the ends of the Earth in your current situation might seem–it’s not impossible…and if you follow–your life will change…maybe radically…but it will be so beautiful and even more than perfect if you follow His plans instead of your own.

And believe it or not–He will still give you sprinkles on your cake…more than you can imagine. Never in a million years did I think we’d be adding to our family the same year Richard and I turn 40…almost 15 years after starting to walk forever together. Now I rock in this nursery (once a living room beside our room…we are packing out this farmhouse!)…just amazed at how He has written our story. So many beautiful parts…3 children biologically…an adoption…hosting a most precious girl from Ukraine whose family would become our family…a miscarriage…another adoption…a farm and now a princess. Truly all more than I could have ever imagined or hoped for. And so we wait…again—for His most perfect plans in our lives to be filled…

After a sweet season of two Created for Care retreats…oh yes–the Lord asked us to more crazy in the middle of it all…and these two mommas to walk that road of loving and encouraging other mommas with I couldn’t be more thankful for…

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And now we wait…for more…

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So thankful how He leads and provides. And so thankful we didn’t settle for our own plans or add that white picket fence to our once perfect. Because this crazy–is so much better.

Truly. He writes the best stories. And this Sunday–I just had to remember…and relish…in His goodness in how He leads us…and what sweetness He gives and wants for us as we follow Him.

Celebrating all the Yes’s…no matter how crazy each one felt…and cheering you on as you say YES in this season to whatever He is calling you to.

Much love from the farm,

Andrea

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